By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector
August 14, 2012 – One segment of the local population has bucked the listless employment trends of the past year and succeeded in finding work at rates coveted by the general public, according to a prominent local vocational center.
Eastern Carolina Vocational Center, located at 2100 N. Greene St. in Greenville, placed 105 people with disabilities in a variety of jobs with 50 different employers in its most recent program year, a 19-percent increase over the previous year.
The private, not-for-profit company, established in 1965, provides job training and employment services to persons with disabilities in Pitt and its surrounding counties. The firm funds its mission through job placements and onsite manufacturing of picture and certificate frames, battery terminal lugs, battery packaging and distribution, custom framing, chair caning and commingled recyclables sorting services at its Staton Road site.
More than half of ECVC’s 193 employees have disabilities, company President Bob Jones said.
“People are aware we’re in the recycling business, but most people are not aware of how we place people into jobs outside of the company,” he said.
ECVC learned there are limits to how much employment could be offered through contracted services and began to expand its attention on placing people with disabilities into jobs with other employers, Jones said. Job placements include housekeeping, fast food and other food services, concrete finishing, manufacturing and kennel attending.
“It all depends on the person’s abilities and interests and employers’ needs,” employment specialist Brandi Bragg said.
Many ECVC clients are referred from vocational rehabilitation centers, and the success of its placement efforts sprouts from building relationships with employers in the area, Bragg said.
“We tell them that people with disabilities can work and be a part of the community,” Bragg said.
Placements are considered successful when employees reach the 90-day mark on the job. Of the 105 placements in the last program cycle, 78 remained on the job beyond 90 days, Bragg said.
Success depends in large part on transportation availability. ECVC receives an annual grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation under the Elderly/Disabled Transportation Assistance Program.
Last year’s allocation was $10,000. ECVC also contracts with Greenville’s GREAT bus system to provide two additional trips to and from ECVC’s two sites.
On average, the center serves about 215 individuals in its job placement program each year, offering vocational assessment, career counseling, job search training and retention skills, placement assistance and follow-up. ECVC also provides no-cost services to employers, including referral of qualified job candidates; post-hire job training, coaching and follow-up; disability awareness training; and assistance with job accommodations. The staff can assist employers in applying for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit when they hire through the company’s job placement program.
Delanta McGregory, residing at Greenville Community Shelters, took a break from his new packaging job at the center’s North Greene Street location on Monday to talk about his recent good fortune in his employment search.
“This is the best job I’ve ever known,” he said. “I was down and depressed, feeling helpless and hopeless. They gave me something to do. I love it here. Who knows how far I can go?”
ECVC provides job placement services in Pitt, Beaufort, Martin, Craven, Carteret, Pamlico and Jones counties. For more information about hiring through the ECVC program, contact Brandi Bragg at 561-6093.
Contact Michael Abramowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252- 329-9571.